Friday, January 22, 2016

Are you intimidated...? Dont Be...

On a cold wintry Saturday I sometimes get the urge to try my hand at cooking.  I don't  ‘do’ many recipes – but sometimes I feel inspired to create one of my “specialties” … an East Indian Curry.  Now the first thing you need to know:  -  forget that you ever heard of “Curry powder” it was a creation of the British during their long occupation of India and is a far cry from the real thing.  Another common misconception is that Indian food is too ‘spicy’ –  for  some people that means too much hot red pepper.  The blend of spices in this recipe is a fragrant tasty blend – if you are concerned about “hot” just reduce the cayenne a bit – but some cayenne is necessary for a full flavor.

This is modified from a Moosewood recipe  - for other Moosewood recipes go -
Can you imagine the good smell? - The spices I buy come in little packets
Some people  are intimidated by cooking curries –If you take the time to assemble all the ingredients before cooking, it is no big deal…

A.  For me the first step is to assemble the spices… This is the blend I use:
(T= teaspoon T = Tablespoon C = cup )

.5 t black mustard seeds  (keep separate because it goes into hot oil first)
1 t cinnamon
½ t ground cardamom
1.2 t ground cumin
1.5 t whole coriander seeds
.5 t ground fennel
1 t turmeric
.5 t cayenne ( about right )
1 t salt

A 'proper' Indian market will have a whole long section of nothing but spices and another with nothing but varieties of 'dal' (legumes and grains)

It is said that a proper blend of spices should be such that you can identify no single spice when you taste the dish.

So when I look at our spices I may discover that I am missing one or more – so the next step is a visit my friendly neighborhood Indian market – I could get the spices in Safeway – but I like the sights, smells, & prices when I shop with my Indian neighbors.  I like the friendly chatter in Urdu, the music video playing, and the range of merchandise that I can’t find anywhere else.  While you are there buy a small jar of Mango Chutney to serve with the curry.  You will need to buy ginger root too…You can also buy chapatis ( flat bread ) to serve...

Indian markets often have really good fresh vegetables for sale because 'fresh' is prized in Indian cooking.

Not my market - but very similar 

B.  Next I prepare the vegetables and chicken
2 C chopped onions
2 large carrots sliced into half moons
3 C cubed sweet potatoes
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium tomatoes
2 Cups frozen green peas or 2 medium green peppers
2 t ground fresh ginger root
2 pounds of chicken breast meat cut into small pieces (optional)
3 medium garlic cloves – minced (added w/ onion

The finished product will look like this ( this had cilantro on top)

C.  Now the steps in cooking
1.  Select a large sauce pan (~ 6 qts) and heat 3 T oil – when moderately hot add mustard seed - they will pop!  (avoid burning )
2.  Add other spices roast with low heat for ~2 minutes to enhance the flavors
3.  Add onion and garlic – sauté until transparent
4.  Add chicken - stir
5.  Add carrots and cook several minutes with cover
6.  Add sweet potatoes – cook a few minutes more
7.  Add cauliflower – stir all vegetables so that all are covered with the spice mixture
8. Add .75 cups water, cover – simmer about 20 minutes – stirring once in a whole - Watch carefully – it can burn!
9.  When potatoes are partly soft add tomatoes and peas – simmer 10-15 min. more… the sweet potatoes will soften and become part of the sauce

Another version

On the dining table place, small bowls of raisins, yogurt, mango chutney, and roasted chopped cashews or almonds for your guest to sprinkle on top of their curry serving.

You can serve with chapatis ( or you can substitute flour tortillas freshly cooked on a hot fry pan ) .. or fresh cooked rice

The best thing is that Curry  gets even more flavorful if you have left overs – Judy and I eat our curry for 3 days…and it's better each day…

There are a wealth of other curry recipes – This is a good place to start your search:

I'm sure you will see what a tasty healthy dish this is! - and oh so satisfying!